Blaqk Audio, the electronic side endeavor of AFI’s Jade Puget and Davey Havok debuting August 14 in the form of the debut album CexCells actually had its genesis some five or six years ago—even further back if one considers the duo’s shared love for the electronic music of the 1980s.
Havok, who counts Devo’s Freedom of Choice and Duran Duran’s self-titled debut among the first albums he owned, saw his tastes evolve over the years from the easy on the ears synth pop of Erasure and Pet Shop Boys to Depeche Mode and ultimately to the heavier, darker Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Front 242 and Lords of Acid. Later, Havok immersed himself in the “futurepop” genre, which combined dark dance-y electronica with melodic vocals. From roughly 1999 to 2003, his contemporary musical diet consisted almost exclusively of artists falling under the industrial/ebm/futurepop/bigbeat/trance umbrella.
Puget, who joined AFI roughly around the same time of Havok’s futurepop immersion, shared his bandmate’s long-standing love of electronic music. He soon found himself indulging his passion for Daft Punk, Depeche Mode, Ministry, Squarepusher, Nitzer Ebb, and Front 242, spending a great deal of time programming electronic music, which in turn led to a plan to start an entirely electronic side project: no organic instruments, just synths, keyboards, drum machines, and software.
However, AFI’s writing, recording and touring regimen left Puget and Havok precious little time to work on Blaqk Audio until the summer of 2006, when they began to write songs for what would become CexCells, making use of the scant downtime afforded by travel intervals as AFI traversed the globe on tour. Music was programmed and assembled on the road, melodies and vocals written abroad and at home, then finally the two would converge in Los Angeles to track vocals.
The end result was the culmination of their love and appreciation of electronic music in all its forms. Mixed by Dave Bascombe (Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, Suede), CexCells expands upon and fully indulges the dark electronic textures that have influenced and pervaded the duo’s work for years. The results range from evocation of prime era Depeche Mode and early Ministry (“Stiff Kittens,” “Where Would You Like Them Left?,” “Bitter For Sweet”) to four on the floor club-friendly fare (“On A Friday,” “Snuff on Digital”—the latter being the first song written for the project, dating back to 2001-2002) to vulnerable balladry (“Wake Up, Open the Door and Escape to the Sea,” “The Fear of Being Found”)—all suffused with the common threads of Havok’s signature dark vocal and lyrical stylings and Puget’s epic, emotional arrangements.